Spinal fractures are rare in children, in whom they contribute only 2% to 5% of all traumatic spinal injuries. The management of burst fractures is well standardised in adults but remains controversial in paediatric patients, due to specific growth-related considerations. The objective of this study was to assess the clinical and radiographic outcomes of surgical management in a multicentre cohort of paediatric patients with burst fractures, in order to devise an optimal therapeutic strategy.
A therapeutic strategy for burst fractures in children and adolescents can be devised based on data from a patient cohort and on previously published information.
MATERIAL AND METHODS:
Patients younger than 18 years who were managed surgically for one or more burst fractures (Magerl A3) were included in this retrospective multicentre study. Clinical, radiographic, and surgical data were collected before surgery, within 3 months after surgery, and 2 years after surgery. The primary surgical approach was posterior in all patients. Computed tomography (CT) was performed post-operatively to assess the extent of anterior bone loss in order to determine whether anterior fusion was required. The 26 included patients had a mean age of 15±1 years. The thoraco-lumbar spine was involved in 15 (57%) patients. Surgery consisted in correction by instrumentation and posterior fusion only in 14 patients and in posterior correction with anterior fusion in 12 patients. In 10 (38%) patients, the instrumentation extended one vertebra above and one vertebra below the fractured vertebra.
Significant correction of the vertebral kyphosis was achieved (17°±11° before vs. 4°±2° after surgery, p=0.001). Anterior and posterior vertebral heights were significantly increased (15±3mm vs. 20±3mm, p=0.01 and 23±4mm vs. 26±4mm, p=0.04, respectively).
The decision to perform surgery rests on the degree of kyphosis and presence of instability. Anterior bone grafting can be added if the instrumentation is short or a bone defect persists after posterior correction. Correction of the local kyphosis is important to prevent sagittal malalignment with its adverse functional consequences in adulthood. Neural decompression must be performed in patients with neurological deficits.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:
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